Mafia Island

Region explained

150 km south of Zanzibar Island lies the third largest isle in the archipelago, Mafia. In fact, Mafia Island is so far removed and has so many smaller satellites of its own, that it’s really a miniature archipelago in its own right. Rarely visited, and much quieter even than Pemba, Mafia and its surrounding islands are a diver’s paradise. Huge groupers, rays, turtles and whale sharks all frequent its warm, clear waters and Chole Bay is perhaps the best coral garden in East Africa. Accommodation around Mafia tends to be intimate and upmarket, and for the ultimate in exclusivity, stunning private island lodges are also available.

Pole Pole Mafia Island

Highlights of the region

A diver’s paradise: If you have any love for diving, then a pilgrimage to Mafia must be on your bucket list. From Chole Bay’s extraordinary coral and fabulously colourful schools of reef fish, to the deeper waters where rays and whale fish roam; Mafia’s archipelago has something for every experience level, but the real wonder is that you’ll probably have it all to yourself!

Witness hatching turtles: Juani Island, just off the coast of Mafia, is a truly special place to see tiny green and hawksbill turtles dash for the sea. Environmentally sensitive tours can be arranged between June and September, run by an enthusiastic NGO that’s playing a significant role in local turtle conservation.

Turtles steal the show on Mafia Island

Practical advice about the region

Although local dhows run to the mainland, the only practical way to get to Mafia is to fly. Scheduled and charter flights run regularly from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar Island and you should expect to pay around $250 to $350 return. If you’re going for diving, then pick your month carefully. Chole Bay can be dived year-round, but the deeper channels are only viable from August to November. October to February has the best visibility, although it’s rarely below 15m at any time of year. For the best beach conditions aim for late May to the start of the short rainy season in November. September to early March is prime whale shark season so it’s really only mid-March to mid-May that should be avoided completely, when the island receives most of its rain.


Our Recommended Itinerary

The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 1

Nairobi, your arrival
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 2

Early flight into Amboseli
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 3

Amboseli elephant and views of Kilimanjaro
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 4

Into the Masai Mara
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 5

The Mara confluence and paradise plains
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 6

Find the migration

Jun

Jul

Western corridor and Grumeti River

Jul

Oct

Kogatende and the Mara River


day 7

and stay with them

Jun

Jul

Western corridor and Grumeti River

Jul

Oct

Kogatende and the Mara River


day 8

Dunia's big cats
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 9

Make sure you find leopard
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 10

Hot air ballooning and your flight to Rwanda
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 11

Genocide memorial and onwards to Volcanoes
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 12

Your time with the Gorillas
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)
  • The complete East Africa experience (EA 13 days)

day 13

Fly home

View Full Itinerary

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